Preparing USB MSD Disks

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How to make USB MSD Disks compatible with ArcaOS

A USB MSD disk is any USB device that supports the USB MSD specification including memory sticks, thumb drives, USB hard disks, memory cards that are plugged into a USB MSD adapter, and many USB memory card readers.

In order to create media that is compatible across all operating systems, including OS/2 and ArcaOS, the media must be partitioned and contain LVM data. This means that the media must be partitioned on an OS/2 type system with LVM like ArcaOS, and must be done using an LVM capable tool like the Installation Volume Manager, or the Logical Volume Manager. The Installation Volume Manager is the recommended tool and can be run by opening “Computer->System Setup->Logical Volume Management (Simple)” or by opening a command window and typing “minilvm”. Once the media is properly partitioned, you can format the media as you like on any system and it will work on OS/2 and ArcaOS.

Preparing a New USB MSD Disk

To prepare USB MSD disk media where all the data on it can be deleted, follow these steps:

  1. Use the Installation Volume Manager (MiniLVM.exe) to delete all the “partitions” on the disk until you are left with only one line of type None/Free Space. If this doesn’t work, then use DFSee to “Wipe start of disk to ZERO”. Make absolutely certain you select the correct disk for this command. This command will destroy all the data on the selected disk. When the disk has been wiped, remove and reinsert the disk. Then restart step 1 to delete the 1 bogus “partition”. At the end of step 1 the Installation Volume Manager should look something like this (click to enlarge):Note the Type is None and Notes is Free Space. When you get to this point, then continue with step 2.
  2. Use the Installation Volume Manager (MiniLVM.exe) to create one or more partitions on the disk. USB sticks normally only have one partition but multiple partitions are allowed. Make sure each partition is assigned a drive letter. Using DFSee to create the partitions is not recommended. When finished the Installation Volume Manager should look something like this (click to enlarge):
  3. Close the Installation Volume Manager, saving your changes.
  4. Format the partition(s) on your device. The partition(s) can be formatted and will work on any system including ArcaOS. ArcaOS supports the FAT, HPFS, JFS, and Fat32 file systems.

Adding LVM information to an existing disk

In some cases it is possible to add LVM information to the disk and use it without destroying the data on the disk. This is only possible if the disk is already partitioned. If the disk is not partitioned adding LVM data will not make it work and you must follow the steps in the Preparing a New MSD Device section. Most new memory sticks/thumb drives are not partitioned.

If the disk is already partitioned, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Installation Volume Manager (MiniLVM.exe)
  2. Verify that the first partition is a Primary partition. If not, your device is not partitioned. If the partition says BigFloppy, then your device is not partitioned. If the Installation Volume Manager reports errors on your device, then your device is not partitioned. If your device is not partitioned, then you must follow the steps in Preparing a New MSD Device section.
  3. Right click on the partition and choose “Set name & letter…”.
  4. Type a name for the partition and choose a letter. Click OK.
  5. Close the Installation Volume Manager, saving your changes.